I Was a Communist for the FBI is the name of a series of stories written by Matt Cvetic that appeared in the Saturday Evening Post. The stories were later turned into a best-selling book, an American espionage thriller radio series and motion picture in the early 1950s.
The film and radio show are, in part, artifacts of the McCarthy era, as well as a time capsule of American society during the Second Red Scare. The purpose of both are partly to warn people about the threat of Communist subversion of American society. The tone of the show is ultra-patriotic, with Communists portrayed as racist, vindictive, and tools of a totalitarian foreign power, the Soviet Union.
|I Was a Communist for the FBI|
|Directed by||Gordon Douglas|
|Written by||Crane Wilbur|
|Editing by||Folmar Blangsted|
|Distributed by||Warner Brothers|
|Release date(s)||May 5, 1951|
|Running time||97 minutes|
|Box office||$1.3 million (US rentals)|
Cvetic, who works in a Pittsburgh steel mill, has been infiltrating the Communist Party for the FBI in Pittsburgh for nine years. During this time he has been unable to tell his family about his dual role, so they believe he is a Communist and despise him.
He becomes emotionally involved with a Communist school teacher (Dorothy Hart), who is becoming disenchanted with the party. She breaks with the party when it foments a violent strike. Cvetic helps her escape the Communists in violent sequences in which two Communists and an FBI agent are killed.
Communists are portrayed in the film as cynical opportunists, racists who are interested only in seizing power on behalf of the Soviets and not in improving social and labor conditions in the U.S. They are shown exploiting ethnic tensions to get their way, such as by wrapping copies of a Jewish newspaper around lead pipes used to beat up people during a strike. They also are shown fomenting discontent among blacks. Despite doing so, they are shown as cynical racists, calling blacks "niggers" and Jews "kikes."
The Communists in the film are also shown to be violent thugs who kill informers.
Cvetic ultimately testifies against the Communists before the House Un-American Activities Committee and is reconciles with his brother and son.
- Frank Lovejoy as Matt Cvetic
- Dorothy Hart as Eve Merrick
- Philip Carey as Mason
- James Millican as Jim Blandon
- Ron Hagerthy as Dick Cvetic
- Paul Picerni as Joe Cvetic
- Ed Hinton as Agent Jim Broderick (uncredited)
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Syndicates||Frederick W. Ziv Company|
|Air dates||April 23, 1952 to October 14, 1953|
|No. of episodes||78|
The radio version of I Was a Communist for the FBI consisted of 78 episodes syndicated by the Frederick W. Ziv Company to more than 600 stations, including KNX in Los Angeles, California, with original episodes running from March 30, 1952 to September 20, 1953. The program was made without the cooperation of the FBI. Real-life undercover agent Matt Cvetic was portrayed by Dana Andrews. The show had a budget of $12,000 a week, a very high cost to produce a radio show at the time.
The program frequently dealt with the great stress that Cvetic was under, as he covertly infiltrated a local Communist Party cell. There were many personal and family problems caused by his being a Communist, as well as a certain amount of mental torment. He saw the party as being hypocritical and a great danger to society.
In 1953, Ziv created a separate television follow-up, I Led Three Lives, based on the life of Herbert Philbrick, a Boston advertising executive who also infiltrated the U.S. Communist Party on behalf of the FBI in the 1940s. This time, the FBI approved all of the show's scripts.
Tagline: "I am a Communist for the FBI, I walk alone."
- Federal Bureau of Investigation - Freedom of Information Privacy Act
- 'The Top Box Office Hits of 1951', Variety, January 2, 1952
- I Was a Communist for the FBI (1951) - Awards
- I Was a Communist for the FBI
- Lawrenceville Historical Society - Book Reviews
- I Was A Communist for the F.B.I. Radio show, film, bio of Matt Cvetic
- Episode log
- I Was a Communist for the FBI at the Internet Movie Database
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